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Freedom to Tinker

Research and expert commentary on digital technologies in public life

Last Build Date: Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:47:58 +0000


Killing car privacy by federal mandate

Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:47:58 +0000

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing a requirement that every car should broadcast a cleartext message specifying its exact position, speed, and heading ten times per second. In comments filed in April, during the 90-day comment period, we (specifically, Leo Reyzin, Anna Lysyanskaya, Vitaly Shmatikov, Adam Smith, together with the CDT […]

Lessons of 2016 for U.S. Election Security

Mon, 19 Jun 2017 15:22:16 +0000

The 2016 election was one of the most eventful in U.S. history. We will be debating its consequences for a long time. For those of us who pay attention to the security and reliability of elections, the 2016 election teaches some important lessons. I’ll review some of them in this post. First, though, let’s review […]

Web Census Notebook: A new tool for studying web privacy

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 14:07:44 +0000

As part of the Web Transparency and Accountability Project, we’ve been visiting the web’s top 1 million sites every month using our open-source privacy measurement tool OpenWPM. This has led to numerous worrying findings such as the systematic abuse of newly introduced web features for fingerprinting, leading to better privacy tools and occasionally strong responses […]

Breaking, fixing, and extending zero-knowledge contingent payments

Fri, 09 Jun 2017 01:28:20 +0000

The problem of fair exchange arises often in business transactions — especially when those transactions are conducted anonymously over the internet. Alice would like to buy a widget from Bob, but there’s a circular problem: Alice refuses to pay Bob until she receives the widget whereas Bob refuses to send Alice the widget until he […]

What does it mean to ask for an “explainable” algorithm?

Wed, 31 May 2017 13:03:56 +0000

One of the standard critiques of using algorithms for decision-making about people, and especially for consequential decisions about access to housing, credit, education, and so on, is that the algorithms don’t provide an “explanation” for their results or the results aren’t “interpretable.”  This is a serious issue, but discussions of it are often frustrating. The reason, […]

Job Opening: Associate Director at Princeton CITP

Tue, 30 May 2017 17:16:12 +0000

Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP), which, among other things, hosts Freedom to Tinker, is looking for a new Associate Director. Please come and work with us! CITP is an interdisciplinary nexus of expertise in technology, engineering, public policy, and the social sciences. In keeping with the strong University tradition of service, the Center’s research, teaching, […]

Innovation in Network Measurement Can and Should Affect the Future of Internet Privacy

Mon, 08 May 2017 16:26:51 +0000

As most readers are likely aware, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a rule last fall governing how Internet service providers (ISPs) can gather and share data about consumers that was recently rolled back through the Congressional Review Act. The media stoked consumer fear with headlines such as “For Sale: Your Private Browsing History” and comments […]

Multiple Intelligences, and Superintelligence

Thu, 04 May 2017 15:00:36 +0000

Superintelligent machines have long been a trope in science fiction. Recent advances in AI have made them a topic for nonfiction debate, and even planning. And that makes sense. Although the Singularity is not imminent–you can go ahead and buy that economy-size container of yogurt–it seems to me almost certain that machine intelligence will surpass ours eventually, and quite […]

The future of ad blocking

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 13:16:51 +0000

There’s an ongoing arms race between ad blockers and websites — more and more sites either try to sneak their ads through or force users to disable ad blockers. Most previous discussions have assumed that this is a cat-and-mouse game that will escalate indefinitely. But in a new paper, accompanied by proof-of-concept code, we challenge […]

Dissecting the (Likely) Forthcoming Repeal of the FCC’s Privacy Rulemaking

Mon, 03 Apr 2017 10:52:38 +0000

Last week, the House and Senate both passed a joint resolution that prevents the new privacy rules from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from taking effect; the rules were released by the FCC last November, and would have bound Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the United States to a set of practices concerning the collection and […]